Sara Bareilles is to make her Broadway acting debut when she steps into the leading role in Waitress, the hit show which features the pop singer songwriter’s Tony-nominated original score.
Bareilles will take over from the musical’s original leading lady Jessie Mueller who will give her last performance in the role on 26 March.
Bareilles’ first performance will be on 30 March and she is expected to stay with the show until 11 June.
In an interview with the New York Times, the star explained her decision to take the plunge on Broadway: “It’s something I’ve been quietly mulling over since the show began. So, I’m making the big jump, and it feels like a completion of sorts, a coming full circle with this project.
“When I started working on it, I didn’t know how fully it would engulf me and my creative sensibilities. I’m obviously having a hard time saying goodbye.”
In an added twist of fate Bareilles revealed in her book Sounds Like Me: My Life (so far) in Song that she once lost out to Mueller at an audition for the Shakespeare in the Park production of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods.
Bareilles describes herself as being “under-prepared and under-qualified” for the role when she was invited to audition for the role of Cinderella. Mueller, who was already a Tony-nominated actress (for On A Clear Day) won the role. Four years later Mueller (by this time a Tony Award winner for Beautiful) was starring in Waitress and the two women had become firm friends.
Based on the cult classic 2007 film of the same name, the musical tale of love friendship and perfect pies remains one of the most popular shows on Broadway.
With a book by Jessie Nelson and music and lyrics by Bareilles, Waitress takes its inspiration from screenwriter and actress Adrienne Shelly’s much-loved independent film of the same name.
Although overshadowed by the unstoppable Hamilton during award season, the feel-good show was nominated for a number of major awards, with the show’s Christopher Fitzgerald picking up a Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical.
A critical and commercial hit, the show’s success has added poignancy due to the tragic loss of its creator who was murdered just before the film premiered at the famous Sundance Film Festival. Promotional material for the show pays tribute to Shelly and her legacy, and refers to the charitable Adrienne Shelly Foundation set up in her memory by her husband.
Waitress began previews in August 2015 at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it transferred to Broadway’s Brooks Atkinson Theatre in March last year. The show is slated to start a US national tour in October this year.
The Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye revealed last summer that one of the show’s producers Barry Weissler and director Diana Paulus were searching for a suitable London theatre for the West End transfer of the show.
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Waitress – Brooks Atkinson Theatre, New York – Review